Kirkland coasts to super victory

DAVID KIRKLAND led home a 1,000-strong field to win the 28th Northumberland Coastal Run yesterday.

DAVID KIRKLAND led home a 1,000-strong field to win the 28th Northumberland Coastal Run yesterday.

In doing so, Kirkland became the first Alnwick Harrier to taste victory in the 14-mile Beadnell to Alnmouth contest, much to the delight of club chairman John Cockburn.

Twelve months ago Kirkland made his debut in the race but had to be content with second place behind former World Championship representative Michael Openshaw.

And Cockburn was very optimistic about his chances to go one better this time round as Kirkland had lined up – and won – the Chevy Chase only seven days earlier.

However, Cockburn was proved right as Kirkland comfortably saw off his rivals to win by over a minute.

“I expected to be a bit tired after the exertions of last weekend so I decided to pace it quite steady,” said 35-year-old Kirkland.

“After finishing second last year I knew the club were hoping for better things this time round and it put me under a bit of pressure.

“There were a group of four of us until five miles and then there were only two of us.

“Three miles later I eased to the front and gradually pulled away.

“I can see why so many people want to run the race. It’s an absolute beauty of a course.”

One athlete who tested out the course for the first time and echoed Kirkland’s praise was national athletics magazine editor Jason Henderson, who managed to fit the race – he finished outside the top 200 – in between reporting on the English Schools’ Championships in Birmingham and the British Grand Prix in Sheffield.

In the early stages of the race, it was Morpeth’s Lewis Timmins, a winner in midweek at Low Fell, who cut out the pace, with Kirkland, past winners Les Atkinson and Darren Purvis, Heaton’s James Buis and Phil Walker (Blaydon) in close attendance.

Gradually, one by one, they drifted off the back until Timmins and Kirkland were left to battle it out over the final six miles.

And it was Kirkland who proved the strongest, pulling away to win by over a minute with Walker holding off Buis for third place.

The popularity of the event attracted back Amy Green (Keighley and Craven) from her Yorkshire base and she made the trip worthwhile by taking the honours to add to her victory in 2004.

The 26-year-old takes a week’s camping holiday on the Northumberland coast to coincide with the Coastal Run and her victory this time round made up for having to drop out last year due to a foot injury.

“It’s the most beautiful race in the country,” said the Yorkshire 10-mile champion.

“My dad and my boyfriend are both running today, while my mum and the dog are out there supporting.

“I enjoy the race so much we take our holidays up here so that we can fit the race in. The coastal scenery is heavenly.”

Green tracked Darlington’s Suzie Rutherford until the four-mile point before taking up the challenge and eventually took the title by nearly four minutes.

Rutherford was a clear second, with Nicola May (Carnegie) taking third place honours.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer